Delta Employees Credit Union (www.decu.org)
has undertaken several projects to create interactive membership applications,
said Rob Elliott, project manager for the consumer lending and member services
department. But in May, 2002 Elliott wrote what he said amounted to a “wish
list” of what the perfect (or nearly perfect) system would do to speed
interested Web browsers to fully qualified membership.
“I developed the application criteria and it had to ensure compliance
with Patriot Act specifications and do validations online. In other words, it
had to interface with the credit bureau and ChexSystems, which looks at how
the applicant handled accounts at other institutions and if there is a history
of check or other account abuse. The whole point is to bring the applicant as
close as possible to membership and access to unrestricted accounts. Our goal
was convenience for applicants and the elimination of time-intensive errors,”
Unable at the time to develop what it wanted in house, DECU started looking
for a company that could (Delta has a larger programming staff and the expertise
to do it now, stressed Elliott) and found Integrated Data Systems of Woodland
Hills, California. “We literally stumbled upon some Web sites they did
and got in touch. It turns out that their own system was pretty close to what
David Benning, vice president and chief information officer for IDS (www.idsus.com)
said that when the company did a demo for DECU its system “matched their
specs right off the bat, but Rob dreamed up what they wanted at Delta.”
On a very tight turnaround (full implementation in November 2003) the changeover
went smoothly after several weeks of off line, then online testing.
DECU’s system interfaces with Equifax for reported checks owed and it’s
Patriot Act compliance software, as well as E-Funds (ChexSystems) and the CU’s
own host system (Symitar). DECU still requires a signature from the member,
however this can be accommodated via fax or scanned signature sent through email.
Payroll deduction can be authorized for Delta employees. It’s possible,
said Elliott, for the whole thing to take 15 minutes to membership approval.
A Delta ECU employee looks at every application, however, and can override any
recommendation made by the system.
Many CU Web sites have a pdf to download and fill out manually, which is then
keyed in by a CU employee. Typically, that information (if complete) is then
in turn run through credit bureaus and E-Funds, etc. So the speed of the DECU’s
new system is obvious, but there are other advantages, said Elliott.
“The data is captured, and mistakes like missing signatures or illegible
writing is overcome. It’s keyed in [by the applicant] once, correctly,
we get all necessary financial information and the data is stored. This expedites
our back office procedures and it’s coming in handy for our expanded field-of-membership.”
DECU now accepts all employees of its SEG Delta Global Services, not just management
level, and has also expanded through extended family membership. Operational
efficiencies also allow for money to be reallocated to other membership services.
IDS maintains that the manual application process requires between 10 and 12
steps to complete processing. Each step adds time and cost and increases the
possibility of error. Using a fully automated solution the number of steps can
be reduced to just four, with strict compliance to guidelines and procedures.
At first, the Delta system handled only online applications, but was expanded
to include an in-branch version. Now, applicants can use lobby computers to
sign up themselves or an MSR can do it for them. It’s also beefed up the
Patriot Act, anti-fraud and ID verifying checks it runs. DECU does not offer
credit cards or loan products through online applications right now, only savings,
checking and check/debit products.
Benning said that IDS’ suite of applications includes net banking, online
statements, loan skip pays, account to account transfers and check images online,
all of which can be added (DECU already offers online banking). Beyond saving
back office time and labor (and eliminating most common mistakes) he said that
DECU’s SEG reps can use a laptop on location to enroll new members and
return to the CU without a paperwork overload.
The “big picture” said Benning, was that credit unions that gain
members and allow them to do more through the Internet (with online banking)
can compete with the megabanks. It also lets them reach out to potential members
far beyond branch locations. “Many of our clients have members in states
where they have no branches at all.”